Category: Flash Creative Nonfiction 2022


by Elias Bailey

Above you, father, a video montage is displaying the most joyful and carefree moments of your life before we met. Wonderful images of you as a little boy playing with your siblings, wearing clothes you had yet to grow into while still showing the exact same mischievous smile we all know and love. I smile at the love felt through these photos, and I can finally picture the world you’ve described to me countless times as pictures of you in your military fatigues, holding your infant daughters flash through the screen. I can hear your laughter and feel your excitement. I look down and notice you are wearing that new grey suit mother insisted on getting you. Oh, how you hated ties, but you look so elegant!

My head swirls with images of our brief, yet transformative time together. I was a self centered teenager, when you started courting my mother. I remember coming home from school and meeting you as you were fixing her car. Instead of me being grateful and welcoming you, I was cold and just shy of rude towards you. I imagined I was being protective of my mother, as she had recently come out of a relationship where she was taken advantage. She raised me as a single mother before that was a respected thing while running her own business as a Chimney Sweep, “Mary Poppins Chimney Sweeps.” She carried every piece of equipment in her bright yellow van and did every aspect of this very physical job by herself until she could afford employees. She was tenacious and fierce, yet also beginning her physical decline. She had recently closed the business and I just didn’t want to see her hurt. You so kindly asked to speak with me privately and said, “I really care for your mother, and would like to see her with your blessing.” I  gave you a big hug, but Inside I wanted to cry. I understood that you appreciated her, and I realized I had just come face to face with true integrity. I was thrilled when you moved in a couple months later.

The next year came with many changes, beginning with mother fracturing her ankle while the two of you were moving from Newport News to Richmond. As you and I spoke on the phone you said, “Don’t worry about your mother, you just concentrate on finishing high school. I’m going to take care of her, and wheel her into your graduation.” You did exactly that. You prepared every meal for her, and helped her bathe and dress. I was completely dumbfounded when as mother was starting to walk again, she called me to tell me about your accident. 

“Honey, Carroll has had a terrible accident.” 

“ WHAT?!” 

“ He’s been hit in the back of the head with a gun, because he didn’t want to give a kid his wallet.” 

“ Mom, is he ok?”

 “He’s ok, but he has some numbness in his neck and legs, and I’m very worried.” 

“Don’t worry, mom, he’ll be ok, he’s tough as nails.” 

 My juvenile mind wouldn’t consider any other thoughts, or possibilities other than complete recovery. I didn’t take this seriously, and in fact was only thinking about going to the beach with my friends.

When mother called me up a few days later to ask me to pick you up from the small town hospital near your parents, I didn’t really think much about it as I began making the hour-long trip along the James River, basking in the sights and smells of birds and trees with grasshoppers chirping so loudly it overpowered the car engine. Upon reaching the hospital I was a bit surprised to see you slumped over in a wheelchair with disheveled hair. I wasn’t immediately concerned as I walked towards you through perfectly manicured grounds of dogwood trees and flowers coupled with the smell of freshly cut grass only to reach you and become consumed by the smell of urine and body odor. 

I was so upset that you were left here alone in this state of neglect and was ready to go complain, when you very calmly said, “It’s not worth it because they don’t believe me. We need to leave.” 

I was in shock, but did as you requested and upon reaching my tiny 1990 Ford Tempo realized that you were completely paralyzed, and I had no idea how to transfer you out of the small wheelchair. 

You very calmly instructed me, “Try laying the seat back, and then grab me under my arms and put my head in. Save my feet for last.”  

I was amazed that it worked and that we were on our way towards The Medical College of Virginia where you could receive proper care. 

“ Are you in pain?” Do you think they can perform surgery or something?” I asked. 

You replied calmly, “I’m not in any pain, but it’s frustrating.I think they’ll be able to help me at MCV. I’m just glad to be out of that place where they thought I was faking.” 

Shortly after our arrival at MCV hospital, a team of specialists approached the car with a wheelchair and a giant wooden board. They transferred you as if it were a well choreographed dance routine carried out by the most skilled professionals. It was reassuring to realize you would be receiving excellent medical care. As I left the hospital, I became aware of the movement of my legs for the first time.

  I never imagined you would have remained quadriplegic for the remainder of your life, or that mother would transition so gradually and lovingly into her role as your caretaker or that she would cease to think of herself in any other capacity. When you left this world she felt purposeless. Mother’s heartbreak led her to join you almost 3 months to the day of your passing. Mollie and Carroll, your love is everlasting. Mother and father, your teachings and love are forever beside me, inseparable.

Elias Bailey served as co-editor in chief for The Lit in 2022. He is a four-time Grammy nominated jazz bassist who has been pursuing a Journalism major at LAGCC since March 2021.

Image credit: “Tree,” roberto vagner melo. Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Breaking the Mold

by Edernis Adames

The lopsided desk wobbled as I took a seat. My legs barely fit under it. I moved my arm to reveal the etchings that covered the wooden top of the desk, one specifically being a heart with initials in it, the remnants of a forgotten middle school romance. The rows of desks urged us to sit up straight and silent. It was at that moment that we stopped being students and became terracotta statues in catholic school uniforms. Behind me were tall bookcases full of decade old textbooks and bibles. I pulled at my neckline, the faultless tie choking me as I turned my head. Thinking back on it, the tie was probably some sadistic way our school stopped us from turning our attention away from the dark green chalkboard that stretched across the front of the classroom. In the top corner, right above the teacher’s desk, was the teacher’s name and the date. Both were written in a delicate cursive. The calculated swoops of the o’s and the mesmerizing tails that grew out of the ends of words were almost hypnotic. At that point of my life, I loved rules and order. Doing things the very way others expect them to be done now seems overrated.

“Can I erase this?” asked the teacher. Without waiting for a response, Mrs. Ferreira put the battered eraser to use. My pencil moved across the composition notebook with an incomparable fervor. I would write at the speed of light if I could to avoid the shame of admitting I needed more time. Mrs. Ferreira would do popcorn reading every other day. We were reading Night by Elie Weisel. I was always a bookworm. To this day I always carry a book whenever I can (currently I’m reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and Warriors Never Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals). “Matthew, you can read after this next paragraph,” Mrs. Ferriera said as she conducted her symphony of voice cracks and pubescent voices. Annoyance plagued the room, but nothing could be done. “The… Miss what is the next word,” Matthew asked embarrassed. “The word is ‘ghetto’, Matthew,” a classmate from the back said, irked. I gripped my copy of the book. That new book smell painted the inside of my nose. I began to tune out Matthew’s stolid reading. The words on the pages enticed me and teleported me to the past. I could almost touch the sadness and desperation on the narrator’s face. I turned page after page and before I knew it I was eleven pages ahead of my classmates. Belkis turned around from the desk in front of mine, “It’s your turn,” her thick Dominican accent undid the enchantment the book had put on me and transported me back to Brooklyn. “Where are we?” I asked sheepishly. “Were you reading ahead again?” Mrs. Ferreira asked. A note was sent home to my parents that I was not being cooperative in class. She underestimated my savvy though. “Que dice,” Mami asked about the note. “That I’m doing a good job during reading time,” I said as I slyly slipped the note in the trash. This was my first real act of defiance. Unimpressive, I know, but I started to question my goodie-two-shoes attitude, a name I grew up hearing a lot about myself. If they could just see me now.

As the snow crunched under my feet, I couldn’t help but think about how much I had changed since then. Now a college freshman, my priorities had shifted from being a certified book worm to partying. I shook my head back into my reality as contagious giggles, indistinct chatter, and lighter flicks echoed through the open stretch of forest. I looked out beyond, past my friends’ heads, in awe at the vastness of Lake Ontario. I’d been there a million times, it was really the only thing to do that late at SUNY Oswego, besides crashing a random frat open where enjoyment comes solely from being inebriated. There was something so freeing about watching the icey waves crash onto the rocks with terrifying force. The wind sang, trying to upstage the folksy music (“This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads) that played. An anonymous voice shouted from the crowd, “Who’s playing this white people shit?” Frozen fingers fumbled to put on something else (“Tweakin Together” by Bktherula). This was my safe haven away from acknowledging how broken that book-loving, rule-following girl became. I blew into my cupped hands and pulled out my phone. 3:33 AM. 27 missed calls from Mami. My heart jumped out of my chest, flopping into my hands like slippery soap. She knew that I hadn’t been to class in weeks. I threw my headphones on (“It Gets Better (With Time)” by The Internet). I walked back, passed the singing drunk girls, the food delivery drivers, the RAs standing where someone threw up. This was college for me. None of the work, all of the play. The work was doable, I just didn’t feel motivated enough to care. I stirred in my empty room, laid on my back, and put my music all the way up (“Solo” by Frank Ocean) to avoid the intense guilt I felt. Cracked and chipped under the pressure of perfection. Missing weeks of class at a time and not turning in any assignments isn’t the best way to get a degree.

After coming home to the city that raised me, I decided to stay, even if that meant hour long MTA commutes. My feet were iron anchors, but I still felt my body sway with the 7 train. I held on to the cold metal pole, as I hid my smile. ”The next stop is 33rd Street,” announced the monotonous pre-recorded message. I raised my headphones to an alarming volume (“Great Day” by MADVILLAIN). The unsmiling faces of the people on the train blurred into the background as I looked past them at Queens Boulevard. The brick buildings rushed past me, but for a second, life moved slow. I could feel the smooth pole cooling down my fingers as I held on. I could hear the drums and melodic piano of the song vibrating in my ear. I could smell the still air of the full train cart. I could taste the melody I hummed while I listened to the music. Most of all though, I could see myself as I stepped off the train taking long steps towards a new beginning. A chance at change.

I’ve come a long way. Everything that has happened to me up to this point were lessons. I had to grow up being a rule follower. I had to break the mold. It was never very stable anyways. It was made out of kissass clay, coated in a glaze of expectations and fired in a kiln for unfulfilled things. I’ve decided to ditch the mold all together. I’m sculpting by hand now, freestyling. Taking my time with each and every inch of my sculpture. Everyone’s artistic process is different. I’m sure I’ll end up with a masterpiece, but I’m not even close to being done.

Edernis Adames is a first-year student at LaGuardia Community College. They are currently studying Adolescent Education with a concentration in Spanish. They previously transferred from SUNY College at Oswego. They take inspiration from authors like Junot Diaz and Isabel Allende. Born in the Dominican Republic, Edernis Adames was raised in both Cypress Hills, Brooklyn and South Jamaica, Queens. They have a general interest in educational justice, books, and music. Their hobbies include reading, watching random YouTube videos about information they will never need, and playing the guitar not very well.

Image credit: “The Potter 2,” Martine Roch. Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


by  Michael Ferrin

I call “shotgun” as soon as I step into the early evening. The others groan, but they know the rules: everyone has to be outside, you have to see the car, no early declarations. Dad chuckles and herds us towards his red Chevy Blazer. He carefully balances a cardboard drink holder—three smalls, one large, all sweating in the humidity—and fishes his car keys out of his pocket. We clutch our Happy Meals, eager with anticipation. It’s a road trip weekend. We are headed to the Wisconsin Dells. Three days of water slides and delicious draft root beer. Three days of tiny hotel soaps and breakfast buffets. Dad manages to unlock the car and we scramble in, my brother and sister in the back and me seated up front, safe from the violence of sibling slug bugs. We were only inside the McDonald’s for twenty minutes or so, but the car is uncomfortable, and my legs stick to the upholstery. Dad turns the ignition and the engine roars to life. The A/C thrums; its sound provides relief before the cool air does. A small black box blinks on the dashboard. Dad calls it a fuzz buster. I have no idea what fuzz is or why it needs busting, but Dad slows down whenever the thing makes any noise. We pull out of the lot and get back on the highway. I pass out the sodas. In the backseat, my brother is already playing with his Happy Meal toy, his nuggets forgotten. Beside him, my sister takes small, careful bites of her hamburger—”No pickles, please!”—perfectly rationing her French fries. I haven’t started eating. Coming from the stereo is the Faustian bluegrass masterpiece, The Devil Went Down to Georgia. We sing along with every word. The eclectic fiddle of Charlie Daniels is a perfect accompaniment to us racing up the interstate. Tail lights twinkle ahead as the Devil starts his show. We’ve heard the song a million times before; as far as we know, Dad only has one mixtape. In the end, Johnny saves his soul. He outduels the Devil and wins a golden fiddle in the process. Dad turns the volume down for a split second, a failed attempt to protect us from hearing a curse word. It’s the last track on the side. The tape ends and out it pops. I waste no time flipping the cassette and reinserting it into the stereo. I finally dig into my Happy Meal as the next song begins, the reflections of the road in rhythm with Jimmy Buffett’s Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Born and raised on Chicago’s Southside, Mike Ferrin has thoroughly enjoyed his return to undergraduate study. He is on track to graduate from LaGuardia Community College in December of 2022; from there he will be pursuing a BA in Creative Writing & Literature and eventually an MFA. The plan is to be an English professor someday. When he’s not studying or writing, Mike works as managing editor of a literary magazine called 86 Logic. 86 Logic is building a platform for artists in the service industry (bars, restaurants, hotels, etc.) to be heard creatively. He lives in the Bronx with his wonderfully supportive partner, Elizabeth; they are expecting their first child in August.

Image credit: “Road,” Yoann Jezequel. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

One Suitcase, Two Languages

by Özgür Peksen-Saccone

The sounds of my footsteps were mixing with my luggage wheel’s sound in the airport. The first colors of the day were playing with my shadow in the long corridors I had to fit my 33 years of living in one suitcase. Excitement, fear, hope of freedom, the sacrificing of my career and leaving it behind. 2016 was the year that I last heard familiar voices, sounds of my city, my language, my mum. I didn’t know who would be able to say my name correctly from this point on. When I saw my awakened face reflected in the plane window, New York was slowly welcoming me. The smells, sounds, languages and faces already appeared to change. Nina Simone was singing in my mind and my heart beats were fast. Was it real that I was in New York?

Finally, handing my documents to the border police was my first exam in English. It was a mistake to think that I knew English at that time. A different, fast-speaking and angry voice was asking me questions but I was far from understanding. Suddenly I was a child in elementary school and my teacher was angrily staring at me. Short silences, looking at each other. My legs were shaking. My teacher finally gave up and let me go.

The first months in New York—how chaotic they were! Streets, trains, the energy of the city—I was the one trying to find my way around without knowing anything. I was a little alien walking around. Asking people things turned out not to be helpful when my hearing gave me different words than what they said. “Union Square” was turning into “Onion Square”; all of the words, announcements and peoples’ voices were spinning in my mind. What an irony it was! Language was my life. Sentences and words were my points of strength. They helped me to be a good lawyer and free my clients, get them out of jail and help my female divorce clients declare their independence. My voice was quieter now while I was struggling to understand this new world with my 200 words of English.

Was working in a restaurant really helping me to improve my English language skills? 

“White egg omelet, did you understand me? Can you really speak English? Repeat after me now! Answer me!” I was silently tucking these words away into the pocket of my waitress’ apron and  consoling myself: ‘It will be okay, you will be okay.’

I was the one giving up buying water after repeating myself five times when the cashier could not understand my “w” sound. It was not enjoyable anymore to buy sesame bagels after people would laugh at my accent. I was the one calling it a night after eating two pieces of sushi because I did not know how to use chopsticks and could not remember the word “utensils” in order to ask. I was the one asking for “pepper” but being given paper instead. I was also the one belittled by five people after them listening to my excited and long-winded talk about world politics, by them asking me “Where is your broken accent coming from??” I was the one who had to hear the accusation of a woman on the phone asking me: “Are you sure you are legal here? Are you sure you do not need a translator?” When they heard that I was a foreigner, the game changed. Was my accent or my lack of the English language the problem or was it other peoples’ mentality?  Or rather, was it perhaps my bad luck in meeting these people?

While I am sitting and writing about my last five years, I feel a lot has changed. Language, challenges, reading and studying into the late hours, as well as my wife’s and my sister’s support have taught me a lot. Focusing on the English language during these 5 years at school increased my English language skills and my confidence. I took all of my negative experiences and created a sense of humor. Peoples’ judgmental questions about my accent became more of a curiosity. I feel that I have become this language. I feel like I have started to exist and become more visible in the English language, in the English speaking world.

I can understand and connect with the writer Amy Tan, who wrote about her mother’s struggles in a different world due to the English language. Amy Tan tells about her mother who immigrated from China to the USA in her essay “Mother Tongue.” She tells us about her mother’s difficulties of being a foreigner, an immigrant, a mother in another world, another country with another language. She talks about how her mother was discriminated against because of her lack of the English language and yet still was able to speak a really simple, clear and direct version of her own “broken English.” Amy Tan blends all the different kinds of English which she learned, heard and used in her life and she builds a style of writing which allows her mother to read her own book easily. When her mother reads her book easily Amy Tan reaches her goal as a writer. 

I can feel and understand Amy Tan’s mother.. She is near me now. We are silently sitting side by side, watching and listening to New York City. A warm breeze is touching our faces.. When our eyes catch each other I ask her “How is life now?” She smiles, and whispers, ”So easy to read.”

Özgür Peksen-Saccone was born in Turkey. Now New York based, she is a current pre-clinical health student at LaGuardia Community College. During high-school in Turkey, her short stories were published in local newspapers. She studied music before continuing on to study law at Marmara University in Istanbul, after which she practiced family and criminal law for 13 years. She came to New York City in 2016 to improve her English but later decided to stay. She completed the ESL and TOEFL courses before applying to LaGuardia hoping to enter the college OTA program in order to add another profession to her resume. She is an activist and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. She likes to express herself through music and painting, as well as recently rediscovering her love of writing, now in her second language English!

Image credit: “Suitcases,” Mrs Teepot. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

My First Funeral is Yours

by Samantha Morgan 

I can’t take my eyes off your body. I don’t mean to stare, but you look so… dead. And you are, but I’m still learning this. This is all very new to me, knowing you this way and not the other way–ya know, alive. It was only a week ago you left me that voicemail, the one where you said, “Hey Sami, I want to make up. I don’t want to fight with you, but you owe me an apology.” I did. I keep this voicemail for a number of years as a way to haunt myself, until one day I lose it by upgrading to a new phone, and just like that–it’s gone. Things come and go so quickly no matter how you try to hold onto them. I’m lucky I got to see you just the other day. That won’t be a thing that eats away at me, that I never got to say sorry or make things right. 

A shiver runs down my spine at how still death makes you. The lifelessness of your body makes me hyper aware that I am still an upright, walking, thinking one. I let out a jump as a hand gently places itself on my shoulder. “Are you Sam?” My gaze travels up the arm of a woman with light, teary eyes. Her dark hair is pulled out of her mascara run face, she’s tall just like you.

Eerily I say, “Yes.” 

“Awww honey, you should know…” there is a deafening pause as she stares intently into my eyes. 

My heart beats a little faster wondering what’s going to come out of her mouth next, I bet she can smell the alcohol on me. 

“Nichole really, really loved you,” she finally says. 

Any amount of control I was trying desperately to keep starts slipping away from me like blood leaving the body. 

“I’m so so sorry I have to meet you like this,” I say as I melt into the arms of the tall woman–your mother. I cry, my head pressed tightly onto her chest. Her body is warm and she smells of a perfume I know of but cannot name. Where have I smelled this before? Maybe it was on you. 

I stay for some time in this embrace, until your mourning mother releases me. She gives me a wink and a smile before making her way into the small sea of people gathering in this open yet suffocating room. How is it that she smiled? All of the voices are murmuring in hushed whispers, and the scent is of those flowers that smell overpoweringly strong. They smell like death, really. I turn back to your body and stare. It doesn’t move no matter how much I ask it to with my mind. I keep thinking maybe you’ll wake up, like you will suddenly wink at me and say, “It’s all a charade!” You liked your little pranks. But I won’t forgive you for this one. 

What am I supposed to do now? My tears are stinging my eyes like little needles forcing their way out of me. No really, what am I supposed to do now? I notice myself gripping your coffin and wonder if that’s appropriate. I shove my hands into fists at my side. When I told my dad that you died, he sounded so sorry. He said, “I’m so sorry, sweetie.” That’s what people say when people die, I’m learning. A line of bodies is forming to my right. I swallow a burning lump of something down my throat. Feelings I’ve never felt before maybe. Our time is coming to a close. Each person in this room loves you and wants to see your dead body. I guess this is normal at funerals. I guess this is it then. This is the last time I’ll see your face, and I wish it wasn’t this one. You still have the best smile. I want to kiss you but I have no clue what the etiquette is for kissing corpses. I haven’t seen anyone else do it. All I want to do is scream but I keep swallowing the burning lump. I wipe my eyes and tell you I’m sorry, because I still am. 

I sit somewhere next to someone, it doesn’t really matter. I’m in a daze. It’s so strange to notice you were here and gone all in the same year. It’s 2009 and you’re dead. A lot can change in a year–a day–a second. There will now be a divide, a before and after, a when you were alive and since you’ve been dead. Nothing will change this fact, I’m learning. Not your mother who is now petting your head as she speaks to you, and not your father sitting a few seats ahead of me moaning–a sound unlike anything I’ve heard from a human before. 

Many major things will happen this year. We will announce our first African American president. Bitcoin will be created. And later a global pandemic will sweep the nation, which I will know nothing about and have no recollection of. You will miss all of these things. These things that feel both big and small, somehow, knowing you won’t ever know them. But for now, I am here in a room with your lifeless body wondering how I am here in a room with your lifeless body. This doesn’t just feel permanent, it is. You’re gone from this Earth and I have to live with it. My own life feels very close to me and like it could slip away in the blink of an eye. I am 20 years old at my best friend’s funeral, and suddenly I wonder if this is the purpose of death–to remember I am alive.

Samantha Morgan is a thinker, a writer, and an aspiring mortal. She is currently studying philosophy at LaGuardia Community College with the hopes of furthermore exploring her passion of writing and self-expression so she may continue on the winding path of opening her heart and mind to the world.

Image credit: “Embrace,” Catherine MacBride. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.